Motivation, Markets and Meaning
Perceptions of higher education in students at élite and local universities in England and Cuba
Keywords:Cuba, England, Perceptions, Choice, Social Class, Socialism, Neoliberalism
In this article we report research exploring students’ perceptions of higher education in élite and local universities in England and Cuba. Currently there is no research/scholarship that has focussed on analysing the perceptions and motivations of students: a) comparing across Cuban and England contexts; and the b) focussing on different types of universities within these countries; which means there is an absence of knowledge to inform policy and practice, for example in relation to widening access to universities. To modestly address this research gap, we use qualitative data from students at two universities in Cuba and two in England. Our analysis reveals shared experiences and notable homogeneity about the social contribution aspect of university study among students at the local universities in both countries and the élite university in Cuba. The élite university students in England were primarily focussed on individual development through university study. We show a need for educators to focus on the way that social class and a localised sense of belonging operate, and also the way that it conditions perceptions and choice in HE systems. More widely, there emerges the need for existential reflection on the key objective of HE policy, and its role and function for promoting the relative balance between individual gain and societal development.
Copyright (c) 2022 Alpesh Maisuria, Rosi Smith
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